Making Big Banks Accountable Starts in LA City

By Myndah Lee Jennings   
Jennings has served as a Los Angeles City Traffic Officer for 12 years.  I will be at City Hall for the Los Angeles City Council meeting on Feb. 29 at 10 a.m. to let city leaders know that the passage of a Responsible Banking Ordinance is a critical step toward letting the City of Los Angeles influence the behavior of commercial banks.  
This proposal requires the banks we do business with to disclose information important to all members and the entire community.   One area in which change is especially important is bank handling of mortgages for many SEIU families facing foreclosure. SEIU has reviewed data that provided a snapshot of the foreclosure problem in Los Angeles. Although, this data is incomplete and probably understates the problem, we confirmed that as at least 11,242 properties in our city faced foreclosure as of January 2012. These foreclosures are spread across all council districts.  
The reliable data can’t always tell which bank holds the mortgage. But for those which can be identified SEIU has confirmed that:
  • Bank of America is the mortgage holder for 1,808 foreclosure properties.
  • Bank of New York Mellon is the mortgage holder for 816 properties. 
  • JP Morgan Chase is the mortgage holder for 634 properties. 
  • Wells Fargo is the mortgage holder for 589 properties. 
  • US Bank is the mortgage holder for 526 properties. 
  • Deutsche Bank is the mortgage holder for 514 properties. 
  • Citibank is the mortgage holder for 144 properties. 
The proposal from the CAO’s office requires the amendment to be fully effective, because it would fully cover only the one bank, Wells Fargo, which holds almost all city deposits. As the data shows, they are one among many banks that we need to watch.  
SEIU members will ask that the Committee amend the ordinance to also require full disclosure from commercial banks which compete for bond business and any other city business, not just depository banks.  
Stand with me at the City Council meeting at Los Angeles City Hall at 10 a.m. on Feb. 29.